Unlike many types of fungi, bracket fungi do damage trees. Photo by Maya Walters.
|Fungi depend on obtaining nutrients from organic material such as decaying leaves and animals. Unlike green plants, fungi can not produce their own energy from sunlight and inorganic substances. This is because fungi lack the chemical called chlorophyll, which allows plants to photosynthesize*. The fungi strands, called "hyphae" grow around dead leaves and animals, and decaying logs and branches. The hyphae then secrete enzymes that make it possible for them to digest food molecules.|
|There is an enormous amount of food available for most fungi, which aren't terribly picky eaters. Huge numbers of leaves fall every year in a deciduous forest. Some of these leaves have been damaged by insects but the vast majority simply fall to the ground at the end of summer. Once on the ground, these leaves enter the food chain of decomposers. The fungi are part of this food chain, along with bacteria and soil-dwelling insects.|
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